Discussion – Week 1

Prison Conditions and Punishments

The first prison in the United States opened in 1790. Shortly thereafter, in 1791, the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution was established, which includes a clause against the use of “cruel and unusual punishment.” The court’s interpretation of this clause has evolved over time, just as punishments and prison conditions have evolved. Some punishments and prison conditions have been deemed “cruel and unusual” while others have not.

For this Discussion, select one of the following topics to discuss in terms of its history and evolution within the correctional system and the degree to which the Eighth Amendment applies:

Prison conditions (access to fresh air, light, and medical care, sanitation and hygiene, and overcrowding)

Punishments (hard labor, corporal punishment, solitary confinement, capital punishment

Post a response that addresses the following:

Briefly summarize the historical origins and evolution of the topic you selected (prison conditions or punishments).

Would any of the conditions or punishments you described violate the Eighth Amendment’s clause of cruel and unusual punishment? Why or why not?

Support your argument with evidence from the Learning Resources. You may also incorporate relevant professional experience.


STUDENT #1 Shandalla Tolbert

Correctional systems date back to the 1700’s, When I think of corrections, I think of punishment and “correcting behavior.” In the 1700’s in corrections, they had different forms of punishment for offenders. One form of punishment used was the ducking stool, the ducking stool was a punishment using a chair suspended over a body of water while an offender was restrained; usually administered during the winter months when the water is cold. In my opinion would say this type of punishment violates the 8th amendment because it is possible for the offender to suffer from hypothermia and could possibly die. Solitary confinement was also used, I would say this type of punishment is not a violation of the 8th amendment because when an offender breaks a rule or is a threat to the correctional facility this would be a lesser form of intervention or punishment and I believe an offender should be separated from others to allow time to think about his behavior which caused them to be placed in solitary confinement. Both forms of punishments were said to cause psychological issues in offenders which to some may say both forms of punishments maybe a violation of the 8th amendment.


Hanser, R.D. (2017) Introduction to Corrections (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA SAGE publications Inc.


STUDENT #2 Seterial Thurman

The government establishes the Federal Prison System with Congress passing the “Three Prisons Act” opening three facility’s 1. United States Prison Leavenworth 2. United States Prison McNeil Island and 3. United States Prison Atlanta, which fell under the Department of Justice. As we look back on the corrections systems or what we know about the corrections system it is at times a violent place from stabbings to sexual assaults and is controlled by gangs’ prisoners segregate themselves by race, gang or in some cases religious groups. During my life I have known people who have committed crimes and have gone to prison for them however it seems that they were punished or are punished more than they are rehabilitated, and I am not sure to the point it becomes cruel and unusual punishment. But in my opinion to lock a man or an animal up for 23 of 24 hours of the day is excessive to me, although I understand we have violent men who would not think twice about harming or order the harming of a corrections officer or other inmates. The average one-man cell is 6x9x12 Feet which is about 48 square feet, even though the American Correctional Association standards call for a minimum of 70 square feet, however there are approximately 80,000 prisoners held/housed in cells of 48 square feet which is known as solitary confinement. The worst of the worst on the federal level are held at the United States Prison Florence ADMAX, on the State level is Folsom which is the oldest state maximum facility which was established in 1880. In my opinion prison should be a combination of punishment and rehabilitation with the strongest attempt to re-introduce an inmate into society to set them up for success, this revolving door and overcrowding is not the way to go.




Hello, my name is Jennifer, I am currently living and working as a Security Analyst in the Texas surrounding area. I am finishing my BS in Human Services, with a concentration in Criminal Justice, and will continue with a MA in Clinical Social Work. I have a passion for this area of study since I have such a wide background of working in the clinical health field for some years running and managing clinics and some hospital units. I also have many years working in the Criminal Justice System starting out from the mental institute to the prison system, halfway houses, and much more working with all age groups up to adult women and men. I am very eager to continue my journey from here and hope to learn a lot and grow through this course….


Thanks for sharing your background and perspective. What are your career goals within the field? Do you have a client group or type of treatment / facility you prefer? I hope that as we move through the course you share insight from your experiences and perspectives.

Professor Mike